Harvest Ministries began in early 1995 by Caleb Rayapati. He single-handedly traveled the barren Telangana district, met people, forged life-long relationships and planted the seed of God's love in their hearts. In the initial years, it was a ministry of sheer faith and passion with no staff or resources. Gradually a few like-minded staff joined and the first church was planted in Jillela, India, in 1995. Today, the church in Jillela is thriving and the center for many evangelical activities. In 1997, the focus evolved to training pastors to be dentists and the ministry aligned with the Harvest Foundation bringing holistic teaching and more work quickly developed. Today Harvest Ministries has 120 churches in nine districts of Telangana with twenty-five Pastors.
Harvest Ministries has a small staff in addition to Pastor Caleb, as well as a physical presence that is in need of some maintenance and upgrades. $30,800 would take care of the maintenance needed at HM headquarters. Another $13,530 is needed early to help with the staff and the building. A new vehicle is needed to help Pastor Caleb travel to all of the places where the churches are located and the school. $43,800 would cover a new vehicle, as well as travel costs.
Harvest Ministries began in early 1995 as a one-man team in obedience to a call planted in the heart of Caleb Rayapati. He single-handedly traveled the barren Telangana region, met people, forged life-long relationships and planted the seed of God's love in their hearts. In the initial years, it was a ministry of sheer faith and passion with no staff or resources. Gradually a few like-minded staff joined and the first church was planted in Jillela in 1995.
The village of Jillela did not have a single Christian, but God's power was manifested through the healing of several sick people. On one unforgettable day, a woman who had been pronounced dead responded to prayer and stirred awake! This was the turning point that led to an unstoppable movement. Today, the church in Jillela is thriving and the center for many evangelical activities.
The tale of the beginning of Harvest Ministries is full of amazing miracles and heroic tales of faith and passion. Today Harvest Ministries has 120 churches in nine districts of Telangana. Twenty-five people make up the staff of Harvest Ministries.
Our pastors are hard at work in the Telangana region in India. In addition to the multiple churches that they are in charge of weekly, they are also out and about working to better the communities they serve. They hold dental (as seen here), run HIV/AIDS clinics, conduct bible study classes, and other programs in their villages.
They bring God's word and are out being God's hands and feet to the people they serve.
I LOVE adventure. Love, love, love it. I am always up for a long drive that typically ends up with historic places or beaches or camping. When my children came to me and stated that they would like to go to India with our church on a mission trip, I asked if they were sure because we have friends who are missionaries in the Bahamas. Warmth and beaches. They looked at me and proclaimed that Jesus was calling them to India. So after looking into it, listening to many warnings about traveling with my children without my husband and about food, we signed up. On the longest flight from Chicago to Qatar, I could not sleep with excitement and I was watching the screen in front of me. On the display it showed the path we were on, the distance we had traveled, how far we still had to go, and all the countries and cities we were passing over. As I sat there mesmerized by the display, and listening to the low hum of the plane full of sleeping people, God spoke to me, and I wrote the following in my journal:
"Right now it's 6 AM at home and we are traveling over the Black Sea. Zac thinks that's the coolest because he learned all the seas in school two years ago. Here's what I think. I've watched us fly over Canada to Dublin, Ireland to over Manchester, England to over Europe and now over the Black Sea. Mostly quiet and mostly in the dark of the plane even though the day is blazing on the outside.
We. Are. So. So. Soooo. Very small. We've gone over 5000 miles and still have 1800 more to go. We have not reached the ground yet, but I've seen night turn to day to soon to be night again before we reach our destination.
All those people down there and God loves every single one and orchestrates our lives to intersect, interact, and to love each other. All those lives we know nothing about. They all have struggles. They all have dreams. They all lives. Why does this find me weeping in the silence of a plane full of so many? At least 18 of which I know. I want to touch lives and not superficially. I want to know God and to make Him known to others. My life is so small, but look how many we can touch and we don't. Every day we come in contact with people and it’s superficial niceties. Do people really know we care and do we really mean it? Why do we only pick one or two people to love? Why are our lives so boring, that we can't do anything to change the world because we are so concentrated on us and our needs? How can we not all be so excited to help each other and those needing a helping hand. I can't change the world, only God can, but I can step up and play my part in His plan. As Isaiah said, "Here I am Lord. Send me.""
That moment stuck with me for the entire trip, and helped me to not look through my American lenses. It helped me to have a small peak through a fragmented corner of God’s glasses. It has helped me to see that God wants us to step up and be the hands of Jesus. Not because the Bible tells us it’s the right thing to do, but out of a genuine love for people. “Love is not casually interested. Love is about being there.”
When you think of an accountant what do you think of? Someone who stays in “their box”, stays in “their lane”, right? Well that is how I have always thought of myself. Quiet introvert, not an adventure seeker, not going to speak in public or in front of any group larger than 2 – yup that’s me.
In 2016 my younger child asked if she could go on the mission trip to VMSS School. We had been sponsoring a child there since the school’s inception. My daughter was now 17 so we thought that she was mature enough to handle the trip. I agreed to go on the trip because we weren’t going to send her that far alone. So, to say that I was a little “tenuous” about the trip was an understatement. Again remember – I stay in my lane. I was going to rural INDIA! One of my 3 flights alone was 12 hours! I had heard stories of Cobras and scorpions – did I mention that I am terrified of snakes not really fond of big stinging bugs either (oh and guess what my daughter almost stepped barefoot on- a scorpion)? Then I find out that one of my jobs while there would be to run the skits and give the message in the student’s chapel every morning. Remember that I mentioned I NEVER speak in front of crowds greater than 2! Well, guess what I learned, God loves to stretch you out of your comfort zone to use you for his glory. That trip was more than I could have ever imagined that it could be. I felt alive on that campus like I had never before felt. I felt a peace that I cannot explain other than to say that you could feel God at work there. When the week was over and we had to leave, we cried. In one short week rural India had become home for my heart. Before we even arrived back home I knew that I was returning the following year.
The following summer I did indeed go back to India. Leading up to the trip I questioned whether we should be going as we had a lot going on in our lives – daughter graduating high school, a move to South Carolina, quarter end accounting. But the minute we arrived at campus it felt like “coming home” and I knew that we were supposed to be there.
When we arrived home from the trip we moved to a new neighborhood in South Carolina. We were the 3rd home to close so we had no idea who our neighbors would be. As neighbor after neighbor moved in I noticed a trend – 90% of our neighborhood was Indian!! !! I was like “OK God I hear you calling me but what is it you’d like me to do? I am already in love with BTI and VMSS, so I’m not sure where you are leading me.
In the spring of 2019 I returned to India – instead this time with Bridge To Faith. I wondered how I would feel about this different trip, would I miss spending all of my time with the children and at the school. NO! It was the best of 2 worlds. I got to meet the men on the front lines who spread God’s word and grow the churches and hear their testimonies. I spent time with the people at the HIV clinic and spread encouragement and God’s love to them. I gave the message every morning at the children’s chapel. Me! The person who doesn't speak in front of even a small group if I can help it, I was excited to speak to the children. God gave me the words to speak to them and eased my fear.
For the last couple of years one of my prayers has been for God to lead me into a new career where I can be on the front line of helping people. In November I was approached and asked if I would consider being the CFO for BTF. It was then that I realized that was where he was leading me. To use my talent as an accountant to help run something that I am already so passionate about. The last 3 years had been to get me to a point where I would be open and accepting of what he was going to ask me to do.
My wife Janet and I have been involved in missions for over 45 years. Everything from hosting overseas missionaries in our home to visiting the mission field. God has given us a heart for the missionaries.
We have been involved with both Bridge to India and Bridge to Faith ever since we first met Caleb at our church in Mesa, AZ. When we heard about the ministry, God stirred our hearts to support the children. We immediately supported two children that year and two more later. Two of our children graduated last year, and we now support them through Bridge to Faith. We have also added another college student who lost her support.
In January of 2019, we made the trip from Phoenix to Hyderabad to visit Vijayalaxmi Memorial StoneBridge School, to see the work and to meet our children. What a wonderful experience meeting the children, praying, time of fellowship, playing and staying at the school. I have never been around a more spiritual, polite and fun bunch of children. They are so impressive. You can not go to India, and spend time with the children, teachers and the pastors and not be drawn closer to the Lord. Our time in India was wonderful. We left our heart there.
Our daily prayers are now dominated by prayers for India.
Someone recently asked me what it is like to be a missionary. It took me back because I hadn't really thought of myself as a missionary. Growing up I took the talents and personality tests in church. I scored 0 on all of them. Zero - as in not interested AT ALL!
Then in 2013 my oldest daughter asked if we could go to India to visit a school our church built. I said yes - I would go only as a chaperone. Little did I know what God had in store for me! I have been to India 3 times and am getting ready to go on other mission trips with Samaritan's Feet. I guess I am a missionary.
But the trips are hard. It is tiring and an assault on all of your senses. You learn to sleep when you can and take advantage of 5 minute pockets of time to recharge. You are thrilled when you get 3 hours of sleep!
You eat with your hands and have no idea what you are eating other than it is spicy hot. You smell scents you have never smelled before - the good and the bad. For the record - Biryani cooking from sunup to sundown is mouthwatering!
You see things that you will never forget. A family of 7 on a motorcycle while a baby is asleep is common. A rickshaw with 21 people in it is common. You see kids of all ages playing cricket. A tent is set up as a War Room and has a full schedule of children signed up in 15 minute increments from 5 am until 10 pm to pray. AIDS clinic women light up every time you see them and ask if you remember them. How can you not remember their smiling beautiful faces?
And there is nothing like touching the hands of your Godchildren. Being hugged and always having a kid touching you. Oh how this has changed in the 3 years since I have been going.
We have adopted 4 beautiful children. They are mine! I am invested in their education, their health, their friends and their growth. I can't imagine not visiting them as often as possible.
So yes, I guess I am a missionary. My heart is full and I LOVE it! My family has grown from 2 kids to 6 kids, and I continue to be amazed at what God has in store for me!